Major league baseball recently released their 2017 Top 100 Prospects list. Like last year, Alex Reyes is listed as the best Cardinal prospect, with Carson Kelly, Luke Weaver and Delvin Perez also cracking the rankings.
We saw a good deal of Weaver last year. Kelly rocketed up the rankings, after having been the Cardinals eleventh ranked prospect last year, this year he’s the top catching prospect and is ranked 39th of all prospects.
Perez was the Cards top pick in last year’s draft, and was projected as a top five pick. He dropped to the Cardinals because of a positive PED test, and his physical skill set has him ranked 91st as we enter the 2017 season.
Beyond the top 100, the Cardinals have a host of other young players that promise to provide value for the organization. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Cards system thirteenth in all of baseball, and here are some of the reasons why…
Harrison Bader: The outfielder was the Cardinals third rated prospect at this time last year, and number 83 among all minor leaguers. Bader was taken in the third round in 2015, and made his way to Triple-A last year in his first full season. In Double-A and Triple-A, he hit nineteen doubles and nineteen homers, hitting .267 with a .335 OBP.
Bader has played all three outfield positions, and has a chance to be an everyday center fielder in the majors. He took a step back in the rankings this year, but has a great chance to rebound.
Jack Flaherty: Flaherty was the Cardinals number four prospect last year, and even after a rough season in A ball, still cracked Law’s 2017 Top 100 at 89, after being Law’s 83rd rated prospect last year. Flaherty has an above average fastball, but his breaking stuff needs to evolve. His slider is good but needs more consistency, and his curve must improve for Flaherty to work his way up to Double-A Springfield.
Magneuris Sierra: The 5’11”, 160-pound lefty hitter had 161 hits and 22 walks last year, striking out 97 times. He stole 31 bases and scored 78 runs at Peoria. He doesn’t turn 21 until April, and last year spent just his third full season in American minor league baseball. Sierra has terrific speed and, according to MLBPipeline.com, uses that speed well both on the basepaths and in the outfield.
He doesn’t project to hit for as much power as even Bader, but he is athletic and could ascend as a centerfielder/leadoff hitter. With the knowledge of Bader and Sierra, it’s easy to see why the Cardinals traded similar prospect Charlie Tilson to the White Sox in the trade for Zach Duke.
Edmundo Sosa: Another international signing that doesn’t turn 21 until March, the right-handed hitting shortstop is known as a solid defender who could turn into an offensive force. Sosa needs to develop better command of the strike zone. As he fills out and gets more experience, his athleticism should allow him to become a solid, if not spectacular shortstop.
Junior Fernandez: These last three pitchers are really exiting for the Cardinals and their fans. Fernandez throws in the high 90’s with great strike zone command. With his electric fastball comes a terrific change, and a developing slider. Last year at Palm Beach and Peoria, Fernandez threw 122 innings and struck out 88, although he did walk 54.
Like Reyes, he moved to the Dominican Republic after going to school in the USA, and was signed as an international free agent in 2014. Fernandez won’t turn 20 years old until March 2. He has great stuff, and projects as a front-of-the-rotation major league starter in the next several years.
Sandy Alcantara: He doesn’t have the early command of Fernandez, but he hits triple digits more frequently. Alcantara’s stuff, if he harnesses it, will be number-one starter material. The 21-year-old is 6’4” and only weighs 170 pounds. With his velocity and his frame, the Cardinals believe Alcantara can be a horse by the time he reaches the big leagues.
Dakota Hudson: The massive right-hander from Mississippi State had dominant moments in the minors last season, after being selected with the 34th pick in the draft. He pitched in only twelve games, but was 2-1 with an 0.68 ERA. The 6’5”, 215 pounder threw one inning in six of those twelve games, and struck out the side three times and two hitters on three other occasions.
For his year, Hudson tossed 13 1/3 innings and struck out nineteen while allowing just ten hits. He should begin 2017 as a starter at AA Springfield, and could see a trajectory similar to Michael Wacha in which he makes the majors in his first full season of professional baseball.
The Cards’ top four look great and their top three prospects should make some 2017 Major League impact, and there are youngsters on the horizon that should allow the Cardinals to replenish, especially on the pitching staff, for years to come.